Winter Park Ski-Music Festival opens Thursday
March 31, 2009
Thousands of music students are once again headed to Grand County to showcase their talents during the 21st Annual Winter Park Ski-Music Festival.The festival is a collaborative effort to get school-aged musicians onto the stage and slopes. They are brought together through the efforts of the Middle Park High School and a group from Dallas, Texas, organized by Jae Jones.The popular event allows the young musicians a chance to see how they rate with other young musicians during the competition, as well as an opportunity to enjoy snow sports while they are in the area. Some will hit the slopes for the very first time. About 70 percent of the students signed up for ski or snowboard lessons this year.This is a musical experience and a recreational experience that is a first for so many students, Jones said. They also come away with many wonderful memories, she added.This year Middle Park High and East Grand Middle schools will host music groups from nine different states and almost 50 different schools to compete within their respective categories. Busloads of the talented visitors are currently pulling into the county from Colorado, Texas, Wyoming, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, New Mexico, and Missouri. More than 100 1A-5A band and choir ensembles are on this years schedule. Many of those students who attended the festivals in the past are now music directors who bring their music groups to the event.Schools to look out for who have done well in the past include many from Texas, with the Vista Ridge and Cy-Fair symphonic bands (performing April 4) at the top of list. Northwest High School of Justin, Texas, Grand Champion title-holders from 2007, will also be attending for the schools ninth year in a row. Fraser Valley residents Lou and Nona Tyler, longtime friends of Jones, are some of the events biggest fans. They have been coming to support the performances since its inception in 1989. They were blown away by an outstanding 125-member full symphonic band that defined that first year. Lou especially likes the concert bands and the jazz and show choirs.The almost 3,000 students are judged to see where they can improve. Theyre coming here for a reason, Lou said. They think theyre good and want to be evaluated outside their own area. With low attendance in years past, the Tyler couple makes great efforts to let everyone know about the program. He and Nona help spread the word to make sure residents and visitors dont miss this once-a-year chance to see and show their support of what may be considered the stars of tomorrow.Lou points out the event has provided both a cultural and economic impact on eastern Grand County for (more than) 20 years. He and Nona hope it will continue to do so for many more.